As family history researchers, we often search for where our ancestors lived, and a number of records will provide us with an address for them at a particular date. With this information, the next step is often to turn to a map in order to see the place in which they lived. Of course, we will prefer a map from the period in which they lived over a modern one, but both have their uses when we are interested in taking a walk in our ancestors’ footsteps.
TheGenealogist’s useful mapping tool, Map Explorer™ allows us to compare a point on a historical map with a modern map. With a growing number of records that are becoming accessible via its interface, we can often jump from a census result to see a pin for where the address is located and then view the neighbourhood over time.
A valuable feature, for the family or house historian using the Map Explorer, is the inclusion of historical photographs and sketches of places that our ancestors may have visited or seen in their everyday lives. This is because TheGenealogist have been working on pinning Image Archive pictures to the maps and have recently boosted this resource with the addition of some great locational views taken from several volumes of a book published in 1878. These pictures, from Old and New London by Edward Walford, add numerous beautiful engravings for places of interest in the capital. Having found an ancestor’s address in the census and seen it located on the map, we can then view pictures of the neighbourhood from the past.
Searching for a Housekeeper
The head of the house is Sir Richard Wallace, 62 who had been born in London and his wife Amelie, who, although born in France, was recorded as a British Subject. Searching forward ten years to the 1891 census, the master and mistress of the house are not present on census night. We shall find out why later in the research, but here we see that Jane Buckley, the Housekeeper, steps up to be recorded on the first line of the 1891 census count for Hertford House.
A Picture is worth a thousand words
Having identified the property in the various census on Map Explorer, we next select ‘Image Archive’ on the dashboard, selecting this from the ‘Record Set – Top Layer’ to see what images may be found around the general neighbourhood. In this case, we are lucky, as there is an engraving from the latest release by TheGenealogist of the actual house itself. This is not surprising, bearing in mind the size of the residence, which makes it a prominent feature of the district in which it sits. Strikingly, it was called Manchester House and not Hertford House at the time the etching was done. However, this picture gives us an idea of the property that our housekeeper, Jane Buckley, had been responsible for running.
Sliding the control on Map Explore to fade the Historic map to zero, so allowing the modern map layers to be displayed, we can see that the house is today marked on the map as the Wallace Collection. This is a museum occupying the former townhouse and is named after Sir Richard Wallace, who, along with his father, the Marquesses of Hertford, built the extensive collection in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Wallace Collection, which is free to visit today, features fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with important holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms and armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries.
Hertford House was just one of Sir Richard Wallace’s homes. We may wonder if, when Jane the Housekeeper was the lead person on the house’s census record, he had been at one of his other residences. After all, he owned Sudbourne Hall in Suffolk and Antrim Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. In France, there was 2 Rue Laffitte, Paris as well as the Château de Bagatelle in Paris. The actual reason for Sir Richard Wallace, 1st Baronet, to be missing from Hertford House was that he had died on the 20th July 1890, having returned to France to live in retirement at the Château de Bagatelle.
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Sir Richard had been born on 21 June 1818 and was a British art collector and Francophile. Based on the Return of Owners of Land, 1873 he was the 24th richest man in the United Kingdom and the 73rd largest landowner. In addition, he had valuable property in Paris and one of the greatest private art collections in the world, just a part of which is now known as the Wallace Collection. On his death, it was donated to the UK Government by Lady Wallace, his widow, in accordance with his wishes.
Lady Wallace (1819–1897) had been born Amélie Julie Charlotte Castelnau, the illegitimate daughter of Bernard Castelnau. The two had met in Richard Wallace’s youth when she was working as a dressmaker, or sales-assistant in a perfume shop, and became his long-term mistress. Sir Richard was also of illegitimate birth, being the son of Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford and Agnes Jackson. The 4th Marquess of Hertford never married and Richard was his only child. Thus on his death in 1870 the title and entailed estates, including Ragley Hall in Warwickshire and Sudbourne, passed under an entail to his second cousin, who then became the 5th Marquess. However, Wallace inherited the rest of his father’s estates and extensive collection of European art.
Manchester House had been leased to the 4th Marquess and used by him as a London store for his increasing collection of art while he resided mostly in Paris where his son Richard Wallace also lived from the age of seven under the care of the mother of the 4th Marquess. With the uprisings in Paris of 1871, however, Richard Wallace decided that it would be safer to move most of his Parisian collection back to London and so he acquired the lease of what was still called Manchester House from his father’s heir, the 5th Marquess of Hertford. Intending to use it as his London residence he renamed the house Hertford House in honour of his father and that is why it is called that on the maps and in the census records. It is said that Sir Richard, by changing its name, infuriated Lord Hertford who had planned to call his own recently-acquired London townhouse by this name.
Images, maps and other records such as census, headstones and war memorials, are all useful in our quest as family historians to add to the story of our ancestors. TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer™ brings these and more together in a powerful tool that aids our research significantly.
Records from TheGenealogist